Judge declares Dylann Roof competent to stand trial in Emanuel AME church shooting

Updated: Nov. 25, 2016 at 2:02 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WIS) - A Charleston judge has determined Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial for the shooting deaths of nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel released his decision Friday morning. Roof's Federal trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection at 9 a.m. Monday.

The competency hearing lasted two days last week as Roof's attorneys argued he was not competent to stand trial for murder.

According to a court document filed Friday, a criminal defendant is not competent to stand trial only if the Court finds "that the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect" that renders him "unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense."

RELATED: See photos of the Emanuel AME Nine.

"After carefully considering the record before the Court, the relevant legal standards, and the arguments of counsel, the Court now finds and concludes that the Defendant is competent to stand trial," Gergel concluded.

Roof, 22, pleaded not guilty after being arraigned on 33 federal charges.

Before jury selection was scheduled to begin on Nov. 7, Roof's lawyers moved to have the suspect analyzed by a doctor who could determine whether or not he was suffering a "mental disease or defect" that may make him unable to understand what was going on in court.

Court-appointed Dr. James C. Ballenger reported on Roof's competency in a two-day hearing earlier this week. The hearing included four other witnesses and testimony by sworn affidavits of three others, a court document filed Friday says.

Proceedings happened behind closed doors, away from the public and the media.

If Roof was found not competent, he would have been turned over to federal custody, where professionals would attempt to make him mentally competent for trial.

Roof is charged with both federal and state crimes related to the June 2015 murders of nine people at Emanuel AME church during bible study. Federal prosecutors are trying him before his state trial. He faces the death penalty.

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